Saturday, November 8, 2008

16 & Life to Go

Please take a moment to read the following article:
Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

When you're finished, consider these "words of wisdom" from the article:
As more and more jobs head overseas, Brock and others on the commission can't stress enough how dire the need is for educational reform. "The nation is running out of time," he says.

I have news for Mr. Brock; American jobs have not been going overseas because of an uneducated workforce. They have been going overseas because of the corporate bottom line. Period.

And this:
But to achieve the goal of sending kids to college at 16, Tracy and his colleagues recognize preparation will have to start early. Nearly four years ago, New Hampshire began an initiative called Follow the Child. Starting practically from birth, educators are expected to chart children's educational progress year to year.

Allowing the government to get their hooks into our children "practically from birth"; That's just sweet to think about.

More important than the tripe actually contained in the ariticle, however, are the things that are not mentioned at all. Take a moment to think about some of the things that they're not addressing: Will these 16 year olds be considered adults? Will they be able to vote? Drink? Serve on a jury? Be tried as adults in criminal court? Oh, and what if - by some mere chance - instead of going on to college, they decide that they might like to pursue a career in the military? Hmmmmm. Well, they are high school graduates after all . . . .

And if they are old enough to join voluntarily, might it also be safe to assume that - only in the case of a dire emergency, of course - they might also be old enough to join involuntarily?

Why would that thought ever occur to me? Read the below passage from What So Proudly We Hailed and you'll understand. What really upsets me is that I keep seeing things that I wrote about happening in real life. Could this be yet another, if only in its infancy?

* * *
from the book "What So Proudly We Hailed":
The tide of our little war ebbed and flowed, periodically quieting down for a time only to then rise up again in a flurry of activity. It just went on and on and on. Buildings burned. Dams were blown. People died. And no matter how many men would embrace me or shake my hand, or how many words of encouragement I would give, we all somehow just ignored the fact that none of it would ever change anything.

It was all just a distraction. Just activity to keep everyone occupied until the stone that was needed to end it all could be found. We were just passing time, and as the months clipped by, I began to fear that our time was starting to run out. Because the world continued to turn for the other side as well, and I could sense the hand squeezing, the screws continuing to turn.

Some of it didn’t directly affect us. Land reclamation – as the government called it – for instance, really made no difference to us at all. It had been going on slowly and quietly for quite some years anyway. Whether it was by declaring areas as wildlife sanctuaries for endangered species, or claiming land under imminent domain for roads, border fences, public buildings and other projects, or “protecting” the water supply by taking control of all properties that bordered a river, creek, lake, pond or even a seasonal spring, the government took their fair share. What they didn’t get, the banks would pick and choose by foreclosure, and whatever was left, the corporations snapped up for agriculture, oil drilling, or mineral resources. The only thing that was different now was that by the end of 2025, fully three states – Alabama, Maryland, and Mississippi – did not have a single acre of privately owned property within their borders. Others would follow close behind the following year.

And when the work week was extended to sixty hours to halve the gap between the US and Mexican workforces (we were in a union now you know and we had to do our fair share too) to maintain our global competitiveness and keep the coffers full for the war effort – which now included the fight against these internal terrorists – we really didn’t care. Our workweek, while more flexible, was already well over sixty hours.

However, there were other things that were more ominous. When the Department of Education deemed that students were now able to graduate high school at age sixteen (since public schooling had been pushed back to start at age three many years ago), I didn’t initially see reason to worry. It was just another thing, I thought, though I should have known better, because it would prove to be yet another “first step” for something else, like so many others I had witnessed in our recent history.

It didn’t take long to figure out. Six months after lowering the graduation age, the legal voting age was lowered as well. Of course it was. Didn’t that make perfect sense? And when the draft age was lowered to sixteen years old two months after that, well, that made perfect sense too.

There was a war going on you know. Wars need men to fight it, but boys will do in a pinch.

I still held out hope that some of these things would push people over the edge, that they would all stand up as one and end the madness for us, but though they would sometimes get angry, they never did rise together. Decade upon decade of always having someone else to do their dirty work for them kept them complacent and inline, and their anger always faded away and left them looking around for someone else – and the choices were either the AG or us – to come to their rescue rather than risk losing what fragile existence they had left.

Every day I prayed for the successful creation of my stone, and every day the sun would set and I would hear no word at all.

And still the world kept turning. And still we kept waiting.

No comments: